Follow the leader

The leadership skills of Oakland Mills forward Kevin Gibson set the Cornell-bound senior apart on the basketball court and the soccer field.

March 01, 2006|By GLENN GRAHAM | GLENN GRAHAM,SUN REPORTER

Of all the qualities that Oakland Mills senior Kevin Gibson has brought to the soccer field and basketball court throughout his fine high school career, one clearly stands above the rest.

It's not all the goals he kept out of the Scorpions' net as a sweeper on the soccer team or the ones he scored. And it's not the points and rebounds he has piled up in his three years playing forward on the basketball team.

More than anything, it's Gibson's ability to lead.

"In Kevin, you could see that right away in just how he carried himself," Oakland Mills basketball coach Jon Browne said. "He just has that swagger about him, that whatever it takes, he's going to get it done. Everything he does, he does it the way you want a kid to do it."

A two-year captain on the basketball team, Gibson relishes the responsibility. Growing up, his parents constantly reiterated the importance of being his own person and following what he believes.

Getting the chance to play on a state title-winning soccer team as a freshman, with a handful of seniors to learn from, also helped mold him into the leader he has become.

"A leader is somebody you want to look up to and somebody you have respect for," Gibson said. "It's somebody that has to be honest and somebody that can set the example. It's a great feeling to have people look up to you, but you also have to watch your P's and Q's. If I'm late to practice, it looks bad. You can't slack."

Fellow senior A.J. Johnson, a teammate in both soccer and basketball, has had a first-hand look at Gibson developing into the role as a leader, and it started that first soccer season when the two both made varsity. Keeping up with bigger and better players who were polished at the varsity level was no easy task. But Gibson found his niche, played quality minutes at left midfield and made an impact on a championship team.

"He was always able to go out there every day and put his best foot forward no matter what," Johnson said. "Whether he's on the court, on the field or in the classroom, it's always the best from him, and I think that rubs off on the rest of us. It makes everyone excited to be around him."

While Gibson enjoys basketball and soccer equally - he started playing both at an early age - soccer has brought him more accolades. After helping the Scorpions to the state title in his first year, he made first-team All-County the next three years with smart and aggressive play as the team's organizer on defense. That's the sport he will play at Cornell University in the fall.

With a 4.19 grade point average, he plans to attend Cornell's arts and science school.

He said sports have given him a good balance throughout high school.

"I've been playing sports since I was 5. It's definitely been a big thing for me," he said. "It enabled me to travel a lot as a young kid, I got to meet a lot of friends, and it helps you get through things. It's made school a lot easier in that I always had something to look forward to after school."

These days, the focus is on winning basketball games. Gibson, a second-team All-County selection last season, has averaged 10-plus points and a team-high eight rebounds a game for the Scorpions.

"He just seems to do everything pretty well," Browne said. "He also comes to play every single game, no matter who the opponent is or what day of the week it is. He gives us everything he's got. The kid's a winner - plain and true. I trust him with the ball when the game is on the line."

That was the case last season, when Gibson went to the free-throw line with no time left on the clock and the Scorpions trailing Hammond by one.

"Honestly, I thought we were good and I think he knew we were good," Browne said.

Gibson made both free throws to win the game.

"I'm not going to say there wasn't any doubt - I was just praying the ball would go in," Gibson said. "The first one wasn't a swish, but it wasn't one that rattled in either. After I made that one, though, I was pretty confident."

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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